4 Stock Photography Tips to Make Images Look Less “Stock-y”

Stock images can be both a blessing and a curse for your website. While it’s amazing to have a near-endless supply of images at your fingertips, some stock photos can be a little too stock-y.

You know the type: staged, unrealistic photos or images that have become cliché, such as a close-up shot of hands typing on a keyboard next to a mug of coffee.

Nevertheless, photos are crucial to good website design, and the occasional stock photo is often inevitable. With the help of these stock photography tips, you can put a more personal touch to the images on your site.

1. Add a filter

Filters aren’t just for Snapchat selfies. By thoughtfully applying filters to stock photos, you can give images on your website a completely different look and feel. You can use filters to bump up the saturation in a photo, making the colors deeper and brighter, or you can use black and white or sepia tone filters for a more vintage look. Take advantage of free editing tools like iPhoto, Microsoft Photos, Photoscape, or Pixlr to make tweaks to your photos.

PhotoScape X Photo Filter Example

Pro tip: to maintain a consistent look and feel across your site, stick to just one or two filters when editing your photos, and use the same filters consistently.

2. Crop creatively

Simply cropping a photo to focus on the most important elements and cutting out the irrelevant details can make a big impact without a lot of effort. A stock photo of an office desk covered with notebooks, pens, and a laptop can quickly become a portrait of just the laptop with a simple crop.

You don’t even need special software to crop your photos — take advantage of the ability to crop, rotate, and flip photos right from the Media Library of your WordPress.com site. If you change your mind, you can revert back to the original image.

Image cropping example

3. Mix it up

Nothing screams “this is a stock photo” more than an image that’s already been used on hundreds of sites across the Internet. If you recognize a stock photo, that’s probably because you’ve seen it elsewhere, and that’s a sign you should keep looking.

Venture beyond the usual stock image sites and start seeking out new sources for your images. Here are a few suggestions to help get you started.

4. Play photographer for a day

Stock photography is a great resource, but at the end of the day, nothing beats original photography to showcase your company or your products. These days, you don’t need a high-end camera to take a high-quality photo. If you’re using your smartphone, check out tips and tricks from PCMag to help you make the most of your phone’s photo abilities. If you have a DSLR camera, take your skills to the next level with a few DIY hacks to help you build your own monopod, make a light box, and create a lens flare effect.

With these stock photography tips, you can take the curse off of stock photography and say goodbye forever to cheesy, uninspiring stock photos.


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